AimNitric oxide (NO) interacts with the local brain renin-angiotensin system to modulate sympathetic outflow and cardiovascular homoeostasis. This study investigated whether NO influenced the ability of angiotensin AT2 receptor activation to modify the high-pressure baroreceptor regulation of renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) and heart rate (HR).MethodsAnaesthetized (chloralose/urethane) rats were prepared to allow generation of baroreflex gain curves for RSNA or HR following intracerebroventricular (I.C.V.) CGP42112 (AT2 receptor agonist), PD123319 (AT2 receptor antagonist) or losartan (AT1 receptor antagonist), and then in combination with L-NAME (NO synthase inhibitor).ResultsI.C.V. PD123319, CGP42112, and Losartan did not change baseline mean arterial pressure, HR or RSNA. Baroreflex sensitivities for RSNA and HR were increased following AT2 receptor activation with CGP42112 by 112 and 157%, respectively, but were reduced following PD123319 by 20% (all P<0.05). L-NAME alone increased baroreflex sensitivity for both RSNA and HR, by 62 and 158%, respectively, but when co-infused with either CGP42112 or PD123319, the baroreflex sensitivity fell to values comparable to those obtained during I.C.V. saline infusion. The baroreflex sensitivities for RSNA and HR were increased by losartan by 92% and 192%, respectively, but in the presence of L-NAME were no different from those obtained during I.C.V. saline infusion.ConclusionThere is an important facilitatory role for AT2 receptors in the high-pressure baroreflex regulation of RSNA and HR which is dependent on a functional NO/NOS system. Conversely, AT1 receptors have an inhibitory effect on the baroreflex, an action that relies on a tonic inhibition of NO.